Isidora was slightly surprised all ten boys showed up and by the looks of it, they brought their boss’s along. She just hoped she didn’t have to shoot anyone them. Don was also waiting outside next to the community center’s van, ready for anything funny to go down.
“Morning boys, it’s good to see you.”
“So you the punta choking out my boys? You real pretty, I’d hate to have to carve you up.”one of the boss’s
“I’m definitely the punta that choked out that lip smacker. He’s a very disrespectful kid. No manners at all.”
“You dipping into my business when you mess with the flow of my money, chica.” the other boss lamented.
“Just like I told them, I’m going to tell you both. All ten of those boys work for me now. No if’s, and’s, or buts about it. If you want you two are welcome to tag along to earn some clean money.”
“Imma blast you right now.”
“Before you do that, Abyss wouldn’t take too kindly to you trying to hurt me. Last I heard he was looking for you Kalassic. Seems you violated his turf, stole some of his product. I can call him right now and hand you over to him. And you over there Chopstix, you don’t want none either. So how would you two like for this to end?”
“Chica, chica, we all good. I don’t want no problems with you.”
“I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Let me make myself clear, no harm is to come to any of those boys or their families. They walk away free and clear. You don’t contact them, you don’t send one of your lackeys to contact them. Do you both understand what I’ve just said?”
“They all walk, free and clear.”
“Good. My offer still stands if you get tired of looking over your shoulders for the cops or other gang members, you can always come to me to earn clean money.”
“Nah, I’m good.”
“What about you Chopstix?”
“Okay then, you’re free to leave.”
“You gon tell Abyss about this?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, this meeting never happened. I never saw either of you.” Chatter among the boys were kept to a minimum as she charged half the group to ride with Don and the other half with her. The sun was just raising her head over the horizon, magenta lines glowed through crevices in the clouds. Mornings like this were always peaceful to soak up at but all five of her bandits had fallen asleep.
Life on the street is hard for anyone, especially when you have cops ready to pounce on you at any unsuspecting moment. But for once in their lives, they’ll experience what it’s like to be dog tired doing something fun and constructive with their hands. They would be a little out of their element, but she was confident they’d be fine. By the time they all made it to the site, the sky had cleared and it was time to get dirty. Fishing a folder from her glove compartment, Isidora shook each boy awake.
“We’re here. Let’s go.” Groggy and groaning they all spilled out her SUV squinting against the light of the sun. When everyone was present and Don standing at her side, she explained why they were there. “What do you see?”
“A run down neighborhood.” one of the boys stated.
“You’re half right. I purchased quite a bit of this area in hopes of revitalizing it. And you all are going to help me. This is the east side of Boston and this neighborhood will be a ghost town if something isn’t done about it. Rising cost of living are forcing people out in droves, especially the Hispanic/Latino population. Residents need jobs and affordable living, access to healthcare among other things.”
“So you want us to be free labor?”
“Lip smacker, what is your name?”
“I meant the name you were assigned at birth.”
“Oh. Carlos Espineli.”
“Well Carlos, you will not be free labor. You will be paid, not all the same though. Different jobs, different pay and I reserve the right to dock your pay if you slack off. In this folder I have contracts that I want you to read and sign. When you’re done, hand everything to Don.” Everyone received his contract and some began reading while one boy just signed getting the paper out of his sight and others stood confused including Carlos. She people four of them to the side and began to question them. “What’s the problem?”
“I can’t understand this.” Carlos lamented.
“Yeah, me neither.” the others replied.
“Neither of you can read, right?”
“I ain’t stupid.”
“Carlos, I didn’t call you stupid so stop getting defensive. I’ll walk you through it, okay?” They all nodded as she broke everything down to their level of understanding. Handing them pens, they inked their signatures and handed the documents to her. Isidora crossed over to the boy who didn’t bother to review his contract.
“Here.” he shoved the document into her chest.
“You didn’t read it.”
“I don’t have time for that. I’m only here for the money.”
“Can you read or are you just ignorant?”
“I signed it, so let’s move on with life.”
“The number one rule in business is to always read your contracts thoroughly. If you have questions, ask. You don’t know how long you’re contracted for and if you should break the conditions you didn’t read, I could sue.”
“I ain’t got nothing no way.”
“That’s beside the point. Always read what’s presented in front of you. Your services aren’t valid unless you do.” she huffed slamming the paper back into his chest. “Read it!” She stood in his face until he complied not caring that he was snarling back at her. Sighing she thought, it was going to be a long day.
Isidora and Don broke up at least a dozen fights and nearly starved them to death. Hell, it was basic training in her eyes. She worked them like mules and listened to them whine about the pain in their feet and lower backs. They got the message she wasn’t to be trifled with and stopped complaining. Finally, after watching them nearly pass out, she gave them water and packed lunched from her SUV. It was humorous watching these boys work and honest job for the first time in their lives and it also brought a smile to her face staring at them wolf down lunch Safe Haven provided. They were content, happy, even as they joked around with one another, forgetting about their faux rivalry for the moment.
By five o’clock, they were dragging back to Don’s van and Isidora’s SUV. As soon as they piled in, they crashed. They left the same way they came, snoring and slobbering all over themselves. She was determined to make good men out of them yet. The drive back to Safe Haven was relatively quick considering the flow of evening traffic. Tapping each of the brood awake, Isidora told them to follow her inside. As they congregated inside, platters of food were laid out for their new employees.
“What’s all this? Carlos asked.
“Dinner. You all successfully completed your first day of work. Dig in.” They flooded the table like ravenous carnivores but Carlos stayed behind.
“I don’t understand, why are you doing all this?”
“Because I care. You’ve been in the streets long enough to know that people don’t care about you. They just think yall are nothing but thugs but I know better than that. Someone has to look out for you knuckleheads because the cops certainly won’t. All of you are better off here with us at Safe Haven.”
“So you ain’t up to nothing?”
“Of course I am. I’m going to make good citizens out of all of you. Yall just need a little guidance. Go on and eat so you can get home.” He stood there with a slight grin then jogged off to the table.
“Looks like you’re winning them over.” Don inched over and whispered.
“Things are going to get increasingly difficult for them, I’m not out of the woods yet. They still have at least three more weeks of hating my guts.”
“Let the count down begin.”
“Amen to that.” As the clean up began, Isidora walked her group of young men out of building reminding them to be on time tomorrow morning. “You guys can go, I’ll finish up here.”
“Get out of here and go be with your families.” Don ruffled her hair, hugged her tight and left.
“We prepped the food for breakfast early.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it.” With the last person out the door, Isidora locked up behind them and began separating trash from recyclable items. Next, she folded up the tables and pushed them against the wall to sweep and wax the floor. Lastly, she checked to make sure the kitchen was spotless and flicked off the light. What a day she has had and just when she thought she was going to wind down, she received a call.
“Mom!?” Her heart lurched out of her chest at the sound of his voice.
“What’s wrong Kyle?” He sounded as if he were out of breath. There was a girl’s voice in the background crying, feet slamming against the pavement.
“We had to get out of there!”
“Where are you?”
“Someone broke in and stabbed mom and dad.”
“Where are you!”
“Down the street from our house.”
“Stay on the phone and get out of sight. Tell Miranda to stay quiet, no matter what. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.” She would do anything for her kids including murder if something should happen to them. A lump formed in her throat, she couldn’t fail them again, not now, not when they needed her the most.
Jumping in her car, jamming the key in the ignition, she sped off like a mad woman. She knew any and every short cut to get to their residence and used it to her advantage. Time was ticking. Turning the corner, the neighborhood was dark with only two street lamps at opposing ends of the street. Scanning the area, she hadn’t spotted the kids but saw the front door to their house slightly ajar.
Silently getting out her SUV, she took careful steps up to the door, slowly slipping her way inside. Ceiling lights washed the walls golden from above casting a shadow behind her. She thought she heard scratching come from inside the living room, but as she walked closer, two bodies were sprawled out on the second floor by the staircase. Sinking into the plush tan carpeted stairs, she knelt down to check the woman’s pulse then the man’s. Both were barely breathing. Suddenly, the man’s blood stained hand slid over hers as he gurgled a plea of help.
“I’ll find some towels and I’ll be right back.” When she got up to turn around, a man appeared from a back room and charged toward her. His face was hidden behind a black ski mask, but anything that she could see about his appearance, she made quick note of. He made quick thrusts with his knife at her arm, and tried for her chest. Blocking him, she slammed her foot in his shins and came across with a right hook and solid jabs to his face. Before he could recover, she kicked him over the bannister and watched him land on his back.
Running back to check on the victims, she assured the victim that everything was going to be alright, then turned her attention back to the perpetrator. By then he had made it to his feet and disappeared through the back of the house. As if on cue, sirens inched closer and closer to the house until she found herself being over taken by two cops. She was covered in blood and she knew this was just what was needed to lock her away. Her best hope was for these two victims to stay alive to tell the police what really happened.
Next part here: Full Circle
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